This show is not (I repeat, NOT) a comedy. No matter what you may hear, how it may be misrepresented in its eventual US release, or how goofy and silly it may look in snapshots taken from the series, Welcome to the NHK is NOT a comedy. It is one of the darkest, most fearful show I think I've ever seen. There, my mandated public service for the month is now complete. Only 608 more to go.
Once again I was confused going into this series (I am often confused when I start up new shows, for many obvious reasons). This time one reader recommended Welcome to the NHK saying that he "never laughed more in his [gay little] life!!!1" Well, I'm hear to tell you that either NarutoSasuke69 is a liar, or he's one sick sonovabitch. Different characters contemplate or even attempt suicide at least a dozen times throughout the course of this 24 episode series. They loathe themselves, and these emotions give this entire show a feeling of utter hopelessness. This sorry atmosphere then spills out of the TV and into your soul. I do not recommend watching this show in one sitting -- you will more than likely feel like throwing yourself from a cliff, slitting your wrists, or becoming a hikikomori yourself if you don't take any breaks to look up some lovely and uplifting naked women online, or shatter the mood of abject depression by watching an episode of Full Metal Panic: Fumoffu? in between every other NHK "lesson." Powerful stuff to say the least.
Welcome to the NHK is all about Satou Tatsuhiro, one of the world's biggest wastes of space who's a sad-as-all-fuck hikikomori (i.e. a shut-in who only leaves his shitty little apartment when he's out of food, and only then at night) and a NEET (Not in Education, Employment or Training), and has been both of these sad, sad things for the past three years. Satou is far from the "goofy, lovable lead" that most shows shove into the viewers' faces and force you to find adorable... He's a loser. There is no question at all about his loserness. There is no possible way in hell anybody could argue with a straight face that Satou is "cool" in the least, or "not a retarded fucking moron." He is. He is soooo fucking moronic. He gets bossed around by everybody he ever meets (including children and those even more freakish than himself), he's paranoid about the Nihon Hikikomori Kyōkai giant conspiracy (which both he and his old sempai believe is determined to make each of them as miserable as it can in the hopes of crushing their worthless and wretched souls... for whatever reason), he gets obsessed with online RPGs and dating sims, he's gullible, pathetic, lazy and completely retarded. He's even self-righteous and dickheaded about it all too... Where was I? Oh yeah, Welcome to the NHK is all about this champ. All we do is follow him from when he first meets Misaki Nakahara (a teenage girl who takes it upon herself to cure Satou of his hikikomori and NEET ways for her own sinister reasons) to his final confrontation with himself and his own fucked up mind (which is a helluva trip).
Tons of things happen to Satou, but if they were to happen to us normals we'd just shrug them off or ignore them completely. But this show is very good at what it does, and what it does is make us understand crazy-boy Satou's mind (well, at least a little bit of it). One major storyline in this show involves Satou sneaking to the school that his neighbor/underclassman from high school attends in order to spy on him. In any other show this would have been a comical episode where-in the protagonist has to lie his way past people, gets caught up in his lie, and then miraculously impresses everybody (through sheer luck or the help of a girl he met in the school who finds him cute) and skate by without being found out -- which wouldn't have even mattered in the grand scheme of things anyway even if he was caught. In NHK, Satou (and thus the audience) is filled with utter dread at going out in public, let alone infiltrating a building filled with people his own age who are actually DOING something with their lives. The entire episode is one big panic attack. Remember waking up from a dream in which you were late for a test, or didn't know any of the answers and you spent the entire hour wondering how you were going to get through the class with a 0% on the final. You woke up in a cold sweat, heart racing, mind in a frenzy as you try to figure out what you're going to tell your parents to explain away your "F".... That feeling permeates pretty much ALL of NHK. But that's not a bad thing...
I don't want to give the impression that I hated this show. Far from it actually. Once I figured out its tone (i.e. NOT a comedy) I really got into it. Yes, each character in this series is more fucked up than all the characters in Evangelion put together, but it's not just a gimmick ("We are sooooooo fucked up, you just can't turn away!!!"), it's the world through their eyes. I'm guessing that the original manga author had some pretty fucked up times in his life in order to make us believe that people this screwy can actually exist. NHK was genuinely a breath of fresh (albeit psychotic) air. I saw NHK at a time in my life when I was sick and fucking tired of the diarrhea-retreads of the world, like Coyote Ragtime and Shana. I can honestly say that I have never seen anything like Welcome to the NHK before in my life... Well, I suppose that's not entirely true.
NHK as a whole reminded me of that one season 3 episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer where Buffy can read other people's minds and it's driving her in-fucking-sane; and she's got to stop classmate Jonathan from killing himself in the clock tower. The point of NHK (at least the point that I got out of it) is just like what Buffy screams at Jonathan as she confronts him -- something along the lines of, "You think you're the only one suffering and in pain?! Trust me, they're ALL in pain! They're ALL suffering! Everybody you bump into in class, whether they're a jock or a nerd, a cheerleader or a teacher, all of them are in distress... but being human means working PAST that, fucktard!" Well, I added the "fucktard" part, but I really think it fits. People who can't see past themselves are all fucktards. All any of the characters in this show ever really did well at all was ooze self-pity. Some snapped out of it by the end though, and that's what made me enjoy this as much as I did. If the show ended and the sad shits were still all "whoa is me," and, "*sniff* my life sucks... might as well die," I would have gone out, found some emo kid, and bashed his brains in just because I wouldn't physically be able to do that to Satou and company (i.e. because they're fictional characters made of paint). Maybe I have issues too, but I'm talking about NHK here now.
I've given you the most basic of basic outline of what NHK is about. Some episodes will make you cringe and feel embarrassed for Satou's behavior, some will make you feel sad for him and the people he meets, and some will make you angry. Never before though has the trip been so much about the journey and not the destination. Hell, no final goal is even attained by credits end (and I really loved the ending, what with no "deus ex machina" answers, and no tidy wrap-up). But if you think that you can bear it (and NHK is most certainly not for everyone), I do recommend this totally fucked up piece of animated existentialism.
You have got to be absofuckinglutely KIDDING me! Parents in Japan actually let their kids get away with this crap?! That guy in this NKH show hadn't worked, gone to school, or even left his goddamn house for close to 4 fucking years, and his PARENTS supported him and PAID for his room and fucking board?!?! What the fuck is WRONG with that country?!
Seriously, the fact that there is actually a term for this, umm, "retarded condition" is astounding! Hikikimori? That must mean that thousands upon thousands of early-twenties shut-ins are living off of ma and pops' hard earned cash without raising a finger to support their own lazy asses. How does a predicament like that even occur? Seriously, I want in! If I could get my own parents to pay for my lifestyle while I sat on my ass all day, eating and drinking, looking up pr0n on my laptop without ever even having to go outside for anything... My God!... That would be my definition of heaven. As long as I had that internet connection.
When I won that bet with God over who got control of Japan, this was NOT what I had in mind for the land of my people. My end product was supposed to be a war machine that would rule the world alongside with the Nazis (strangely enough I never had control of Germany. That was always Vishnu's realm). Instead, God's U.S. of A. came in and trownsed my poor Japs, and then turned them into subservient, hard-up pansies who don't even allow a little beaver to be shown in their hardcore photobooks (of which there are enough printed each year to cover the Earth under three sheets of mosaiced body bumping). My poor Japan has turned into a country of wussies.
And NOW they're all allowing their kids to become either totally infected by at least 3 STDs each, or total shut ins, who've never even touched a real girl (and never will). There are no in-betweens here, they're either poon-hungry deviants or complete pussies! How the mighty have fallen! Back in the good ole WWII days the average Japanese child was ready and willing to bayonet any non-slant-eyed soldier who tried to invade their home turf. They were also determined to defend their motherland with grenades and bombs wrapped around their little torsos!... Then Truman had to drop those goddamn nukes on them. Damn you, Harry...
Anyway, if anybody tried to invade the island country of the Rising Sun today, they'd have absolutely no resistance from anybody younger than 70 years old. All they'd have to do is parachute in some Thai hookers ahead of the infantry advance and the citizens of Japan would either be too busy fucking, or they'd lock themselves in their apartments, too ashamed to come out because of all the falling naked ladies. Goddamn Japan...